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Texas Brewers Launch Political Action Committee to Take on State Laws

CraftPAC will “protect the rights of Texas breweries and champion common sense, 21st century legislative reforms.”

John Holl January 30, 2018

While seeing how beer is made is a fun part of visiting a brewery, the opposite is said for seeing how laws are made. However, as the number of breweries in the country begins to rise so does the need for breweries and their guilds to work with lawmakers across the country to advance brewing industry interests.

Texas, while slow to embrace the current craft beer movement, has sought to catch up in recent years. The state now has more than 200 breweries, thanks in part to the loosening and changes in certain state laws that made it slightly easier for breweries to operate.

Scott Metzger, the owner and brewer at Freetail Brewing Co. in San Antonio recounted some of the hurdles he and others had to jump over to do business, in a recent episode of the Craft Beer and Brewing Magazine podcast. The craft brewing industry had a $4.5 billion impact on the Texas economy in 2016, contributing the equivalent of 26,506 full-time jobs, according to the guild.

To further the cause the Texas Craft Brewers Guild announced this month that it launched a political action committee (PAC), called CraftPAC, that will “protect the rights of Texas breweries and champion common sense, 21st century legislative reforms.”

"It is time to shine a light on the broken beer laws in Texas,” Texas Craft Brewers Guild Executive Director Charles Vallhonrat said in a press release. “The Texas Craft Brewers Guild has led organized industry efforts at the Capitol and conducted stakeholder outreach and concerted advocacy work for years to drive a legislative agenda that would modernize beer laws in Texas. But, it is time to let the public know that we are dealing with arcane laws written in the 1930s and 1970s that do not reflect current market conditions. We want to get the public involved in developing a craft beer landscape that is responsive to their interests.”

The goal of CraftPAC will be to champion job growth, increase economic impact, and expand consumer freedom, and in doing so will be taking on the Texas beer wholesale lobby, which the guild says has “outgunned” craft brewers in the state to promote their own agenda, by donating $18 million over the last decade to political causes and candidates.

The guild says this includes the passage of two laws, one that makes larger breweries use a distributor to transport beer from a brewery to their own tap rooms, and another that prohibits breweries from selling distribution rights to wholesalers. That law prompted a lawsuit that is now headed to the state’s supreme court.

“The wholesale lobby has exerted massive influence in the state legislature by contributing tens of millions of dollars to elected officials,” CraftPAC Board Chair and Austin Beerworks Co-Founder Adam DeBower said. “If the Texas craft brewing industry is ever going to achieve its full potential, it has to play on the same field as the wholesalers. CraftPAC provides an opportunity for Texas craft brewers and beer consumers to vote not just with their dollars out in the marketplace, but also in the halls of the state Capitol.”

Headed into the 2019 legislative session CraftPAC will “support legislative candidates, ballot initiatives and pieces of legislation which positively impact the growth and sustainability of the Texas craft beer industry while opposing legislative candidates, ballot initiatives, and legislation which seek to hold the industry back,” according to the guild.

John Holl is the Senior Editor of Craft Beer & Brewing Magazine®. Email tips and story suggestions to [email protected].

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